As I slowly come to grips with the fact that my Philadelphia Flyers are overmatched in their playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, I am left to wonder…what roster changes are needed?
Itâ€™s funny how each sports season starts. At the start of the year, I usually am openly optimistic, but tend to quietly listen to all the â€œexpertsâ€ who say that one team will do this, another will do that, this team will be lucky to make the playoffs, and this group is good; but not quite ready for the show.
The 2008-2009 Flyers are the latter bunch; and deep down I think I realized it all season. Theyâ€™ve proven that they can win against the best teams in the league, yet they are still missing a few key pieces to the puzzle. An upgrade at the goalie position is needed as is a deeper and tougher defensive corps. Defense wins championships and thatâ€™s the bottom line. If the other team is kept off the scoreboard, your chances of winning skyrocket (duh).
Game 4 this past Tuesday was a perfect example of how defense wins games. The Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury was stellar. He literally and figuratively stole the game for the Pens. A No.1 draft pick for the Penguins a few years ago, the guy has turned out to be quite the performer. Fleuryâ€™s performance brings me to another point. Do the Flyers buy or sell their current crop of goalies?
Both Martin Biron and Antero Nittymaki are slated to be free agents this offseason. Neither have shown they have the consistency to be a top tier goalie in the NHL. Nittymaki has his Winter Olympic heroics to validate his skill, but that type of performance has been hard to come by on a regular basis. During last years playoffs Biron proved to himself and the doubters that he is a solid netminder. He led the Flyers to the Eastern Conference finals, but had his own ups and downs this year.
With neither goalie able or willing to solidify themselves so far, what do the Flyers do? Do they buy or sell? Resign them both and see who shows up next year? (No-been there done that this season). Do they sign one and not the other? Do they let them both go and try to pick up some other goalie?
Despite the fact I respect both goalies and believe they are serviceable backups – I do not think either is ready at this point to lead a team to a championship. I wouldnâ€™t mind seeing the Flyers sign one of them at a respectable backup salary and go after a true No. 1 goalie. That would make the most sense in my mind. With multiple opportunities, neither has really taken charge, so go with a fresh face.
The only issue with signing one to a backup role is, who do you pickup as your starter? I donâ€™t think much is out on the free agent market. That leaves the Flyers shopping a top d-man or forward to try and get a true starter. The farm system appears to be pretty bleak at the moment. I canâ€™t even begin to think about who iâ€™d be willing to trade from the forwards – however someone is probably expendable as they have a deep bench and some young guns ready to make the step to the big show. Time will tell, but i think the best move is to sell.
On a related note: Ryan you are correct – I think the Bruins are trouble. They should steamroll every Â team in the East, Big Z is a scary dude. If the Flyers lose I just hope that every other team from the Atlantic division gets bumped from the playoffs as well.